Drying wildflowers in summertime
While bearing many of the hallmark symbols of the now well-known Central Desert Aboriginal art movement, Emily Kame Kngwarreye's paintings have always carried highly distinctive style. This painting is from the period when her canvases first revealed a significant divergence from the central tenets of 'dot and circle' composition. As its title suggests, the artist is responding to the purely surface feature of her desert landscape, a landscape that springs into a thousand-colour carpet of flowers and plants whenever the unpredictable rain falls.Kngwarreye's overlapping splodges of painted dots raise immediate comparisons with techniques employed by the Impressionist movement, with her primary emphasis on the exploration of colour and texture and a clear pleasure in placing paint on canvas. For all these enigmatic comparisons, the originality of Emily Kame Kngwarreye's works commands and immediate response from viewers.SHORTER VERSION FOR SAC 2011Emily Kame Kngwarreye's paintings possess a unique and distinctive style. Unlike many of Kngwarreye’s later paintings, this painting depicts her Country’s surface, a landscape that springs into a thousand-colour carpet of flowers and plants whenever the unpredictable rain falls. Kngwarreye's sporatic application of painted dots raise immediate comparisons with techniques employed by the Impressionist painters, with her primary emphasis on the exploration of colour and texture and a clear pleasure in placing paint on canvas. For all these enigmatic comparisons, the originality of Emily Kame Kngwarreye's works commands and immediate response from viewers.
Curatorial insightA senior member of the Anmatyerre community of Utopia, north-east of Alice Springs, Emily Kam Kngwarreye had a prolific and highly successful career as an artist. She was born about 1910 at a small soak known as Alhalkare/Alhkere, and knew a life before the appearance of white men in the desert. Cattle and sheep stations occupied much of her traditional country during her childhood, and she grew up as a stock worker on these stations and also as a domestic servant. In the late 1970s and 1980s, Kngwarreye, along with other women from Utopia, took up batik as a means of expressing traditional stories and designs on cloth, and her earliest works are painted dyed fabrics using the batik technique. Having begun painting on canvas in the summer of 1988/89, she developed distinctive skeletal linear formations, which were then overlaid with dots to form highly abstracted works. The lines disappeared in the early 1990s, when she began to use colour fields of dots raining across the canvas to signify merne (everything) – the plants and flowers of her desert country. From about 1994 she began more gestural work, using broad, dumped colour lines and brush-marks evoking awelye, body designs from women’s ceremonies. Occasionally she produced minimal monochrome works of vertical lines. In the period to 1996 she often used intertwining, meandering strokes as a stylistic device. Her final months were given to sweeping, gestural works. (Isaacs, Spirit Country, 1999)